Robert Buckley was born in Royton in 1886. His parents were Henry and Jane. On March 13th 1909 he married Thirza Crane at Oldham Registry Office and they settled at Stove Cottages in Royton. A son,George, arrived in March 1912.
Robert had been a territorial before the war, whilst working at the Grape Mill, and come August 1914 he became a full time soldier with the 10th Manchesters, Oldham's pre-war territorial unit.
The Oldham men sailed from Southampton in September 1914, arriving in Alexandria on the 25th of that month. Then followed over seven months of training in Egypt before, on May 2nd 1915, the battalion received notification that it was heading to the Dardanelles. The British had landed there on April 25th and had fallen far short of their initial aims.
Carried on different vessels the men of C & D companies landed at Gallipoli on May 9th, followed by A & B on the 13th. For the remainder of the month the battalion got used to life in the front line and by the end of May they'd suffered over 50 casualties - 14 dead and over 40 wounded.The men had no doubt suffered but their real baptism of fire was yet to come.
On June 4th the British were to make another attempt (the Third Battle of Krithia) to attain the objectives of Day 1 back on April 25th. Two regular battalions - the 2nd Royal Fusiliers and 2nd Hampshires had suffered terrible losses since landing in April and needed the extra manpower of the 10th, and also two territorial battalions of the East Lancashires to boost their numbers. As part of this scratch force,this was to be the Oldham Territorials first frontal assault and it was to be a predictably costly affair.
The morning of June 4th saw a massive naval bombardment of the Turkish positions in front of Robert and the rest of the 10th Manchesters.At 11:20 the shelling stopped and the British, en-masse, poked their bayonets above the parapets as if they were about to launch their assault. This was a ruse to get the Turks out of their deep dugouts and back into their open trenches and ten minutes later the naval bombardment began again. 30 further minutes of the Turkish lines being pounded and then it really was time for the Oldhamers to go over the top.
The original charge swept into the Turkish trenches but during ferocious fighting over the next couple of days the lines were forced back almost to the point from where the men had started. The losses of the men from Oldham were estimated at 94 dead and 320 wounded. Three Royton men were killed in the attack - John Fitton , Frank Smith & James Shaw. Two more, Edwin Hyde & James Mudd,with the Lancashire Fusiliers as part of the larger assault also lost their lives that day. It was the bloodiest day of the war so far for Royton but the town could perhaps be thankful that it's sons had not made a habit in the pre war years of signing up in large numbers for the Oldham Territorials, the name of Krithia being engraved on the consciousness of it's larger neighbour for many years to come.
In July the shattered battalion received reinforcements from the second line unit raised in Oldham after the outbreak of war, the 2nd/10th Manchesters and then on August 9th the Oldhamers were called into action again. This was no full assault on the Turkish lines but rather a diversionary tactic, or 'demonstration' as the army termed it, to distract attention and resources from the fighting further up the coast at Suvla Bay - where the British & Commonwealth forces were making very heavy going of it after their landings on August 6th. 9 men were killed and over 50 wounded that day. Royton man Frank Mellor was one of those killed. Not long after that Robert was hospitalised with Bronchitis on August 11th and was first treated at the Dardanelles before being moved back to Egypt and Alexandria. Eventually Robert returned to England in October.
After spells in hospitals in England he was discharged and being unfit to return to front line duty became a drill instructor at a training camp. Again his health failed him and he was in Colchester Military Hospital in 1917 from February 1st to April 3rd. In July some good news came with the birth of Robert & Thirza's daughter,Minnie.
In May 1918, Robert joined the Labour Corps and was stationed at the Kinmel Park army camp in North Wales. Then in August came another move - on the first of that month he became a Military Policeman (again, at Kinmel Park).
Shortly afterwards,Robert became one of the millions of casualties of the influenza epidemic. He was admitted to Chester Military Hospital on October 11th and died six days later at 04:15. He was buried back in his home town of Royton.
Date of Death:17/10/1918
Regiment:Military Police Corps
Grave Reference:C.C.E. 923.